The field next to Maury Stadium was overtaken early Saturday afternoon by Chihuahuas, pugs, pit–boxer mixes and all manner of dogs.
Some of the dogs were dressed in costumes—there were bunnies, a daisy, Batman, and one little pup wore a sombrero.
But none of them could touch Champ.
The 2-year-old German Shepherd was among dozens of dogs that came out for the annual Dog Easter Egg Hunt, hosted by the Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation and Events department.
Champ stood only with the help of a dog wheelchair, his quivering head constantly moving around so he could take in all the action around him.
Andrea Grogan, a Culpeper resident who took in Champ as a foster dog one year ago, grasped a handle attached to the wheelchair she uses to push him around.
She said Champ was found abandoned in a South Texas ditch, unable to move. He ended up with Shenandoah Shepherd Rescue.
Champ’s paralysis was the result of the distemper virus. Left untreated, dogs stricken with the virus have little chance of survival.
But Champ defied the odds.
Saturday was a stark contrast to his time in Texas.
He and Grogan were a magnet for other dogs and their owners, something Champ clearly enjoyed. While he didn’t get a chance to hunt for the treat-filled Easter eggs like the other dogs, someone gave him one anyway.
“He’s a social butterfly,” Grogan said.
Champ also won the big-dog costume contest, easily earning the loudest cheer from the crowd.
While his costume—white and pink bunny ears—didn’t quite measure up to some of the other dogs’ getups, but there was still little doubt he would win.
Wendy Stone, with the parks and recreation department, acknowledged that herself after the contest.
She said the department has hosted the event for 15 years.
Recent rain showers forced the department to move the event from the Fredericksburg Dog Park to the field next to Maury Stadium, she said.
A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to the Fredericksburg SPCA.